This was my 18th Carnival Cruise, first on the Legend and first time out of Tampa. The week prior to our cruise, Carnival confirmed that several upgrades were not completed, but they were wrong - all were complete when we boarded. These included Green Thunder slide, Waterworks, Bonsai Sushi, Red Frog Pub, etc. We did not see or hear construction during our cruise. Tampa is a nice port, but often has issues with heavy fog delaying cruises in and out. We were delayed going out on embarkation day. Fortunately, we got back without fog and did not miss our flight home. But because fog can be such an issue, we will probably not cruise out of this port again.
This was a casino Premier Cruise with nice perks. However, the casino was small and smokey. They did not have Caribbean Stud Poker (my favorite table game) because they felt it was not appropriate for a ship going to Australia. They had only one Three Card Poker table, often crowded with smokers, which is nasty for those of us who breathe for a living. Casino staff forgot to deliver my gift and champagne, but sent it the last night after I requested it.
Sadly, Carnival has cut back on things I used to enjoy like steel drums playing Caribbean music and deck parties. No live music near the casino. No break dancers, couldn't find deck parties. No big screen or music on Lido. The pools are very tiny. Serenity is always enjoyable. They no longer provide canape plates to Platinum guests.
Ports: We've been to Cozumel several times; just walked around, took pix. Belize - we had to tender in, and this was a long process for some. We purchased Butts Up zipline and cave tubing directly with cavetubing.com. It was a lot of fun and a great price, but: It is a long bus ride to get there, a long walk carrying a big tube to the caves, and a LOT of walking and climbing steps to do the six ziplines. The stop in Belize was so short that we had to have lunch (chicken enchiladas) on the bus ride back and got to the ship only 10 minutes before the last tenders left. Roatan: Purchased the Flying Beach Chair all-day pass for $12 each. It's slow, but beats walking and there are wonderful views of the ship and beach from the chairs. Grand Cayman: nice port, but we've been here before and did not do excursions this time.
IMPORTANT: People have recommended for years that cruisers book excursions directly with the provider instead of through Carnival because Carnival prices are so much higher. Carnival has a new policy that they will match a provider's cost plus give you 10%. We didn't test this, so I don't know what proof you have to provide or when you have to provide it to get this deal.
We took advantage of the free bottle of wine by booking the Golden Fleece steakhouse on the first night. It was absolutely worth the $35pp (including gratuity) and the best meal we had all week. The food and presentation was amazing. We could not even finish our entrees and asked if we could take the dessert to go .. no problem. My son had a big steak, I had surf & turf, we had a couple of appetizers each, and the chocolate samplers and cheesecake for dessert. They also wrapped up the uneaten steak!
Bonsai Sushi was great. The Boat for Two is a great sampler with plenty of food for two people for only $15. We went back for rolls another day. Medusa's Lair had a good DJ and themed music every night. The dining staff for our Anytime Dining was GREAT - SO much better than on the Dream. Did you know you can go into the dining room just for dessert? We had dinner one night, ate a lot and left before dessert to see a show. We went back later just for the dessert. Wish I'd thought of this before! Staff all over the ship made a point to call us by name, which was nice. They were all friendly and helpful. Have fun!